Ration shopkeeper fined for cheating cardholders - 28 years later

September 29th, 2009 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Terming a ration shop dealer’s offence of denying cardholders their quota of rice and selling adulterated food as “a crime against society”, Delhi High Court Tuesday slapped a fine of Rs.50,000 on him - almost three decades after the shopkeeper was nabbed in a raid.
While slapping the fine on shopkeeper Lachhi Ram (appellant), Justice M.C. Garg noted: “There has been some lapse of time since the offence was committed in 1981, but that alone cannot come to the aid of the appellant because having found him guilty of an offence this court is obliged to convict him and not let the crime go unpunished.”

Lachhi Ram’s appeal was pending in the court since 1985. Noting that he had obtained an order of bail, the judge said: “He, obviously, was not interested in an early disposal of the appeal and took no steps in that behalf.”

The court asked Lachhi Ram to deposit the fine with the lower court to escape punishment.

Lachhi Ram operated a fair price shop in Mangolpuri area. A raid in 1981 revealed that 11 card holders had been denied wholly or partially the rice quota as indicated in their cash memos.

He was also pulled up for selling adulterated food articles. The court said: “The type of adulterated articles sold by the appellant is the one generally consumed by children. It is not only illegal but even immoral to serve articles containing artificial sweeteners the use whereof has been prohibited by the statute.”

The judge noted that Lachhi Ram cannot be let off unpunished “as a crime of this nature, being a crime against the society at large, cannot be ignored. Sympathy in such cases is totally misplaced,” the court said while dismissing his plea of acquittal.

A lower court had sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment along with a fine.

He had appealed against this in the high court.

“I find it a fit case not to release the petitioner on probation as pleaded by him. I am, however, of the considered view that no purpose will be served in sending the appellant to jail at this juncture.

“The proper course would be to direct the appellant to deposit the additional fine of Rs.50,000 within one week before the trial court and if such deposit is made, then he will not be required to go to jail and his sentence will come to an end,” the judge noted.

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